The Los Angeles Lakers are asking the NBA to apply a career-ending injury exception to Luol Deng’s remaining salary, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Deng was waived by the Lakers in 2018 as the team stretched the 2016 free agent signing’s remaining contract through 2022. The Lakers owe Deng five million dollars per season in that span.
Deng joined the Timberwolves for the 2018 season but had not played since as injuries have taken a toll on the former Bulls star. It seems unlikely that he will play in the NBA again.
Applying for the exception would not allow the Lakers to not pay Deng. But, if the NBA grants it, they could remove that salary from their books. It won’t create any cap space for the team as they are likely to be over the cap regardless of that decision. However, that five million will have a major impact if the Lakers go above the luxury tax in the next few years in order to keep their roster intact and keep upgrading it. The Lakers are generally not shy about spending money to improve their team under the league’s rules but considering the impact of the pandemic on their (and the NBA’s) business, it’s not shocking that they would look to save money any way they can.
Deng’s salary cannot be used in trades regardless of the injury exception being applied.